The Murray State News takes home second place General Excellence from 2022 Kentucky Press Association Convention

By Jennifer Cline | Feb 7, 2023

Pictured from left to right, Jakob Milani, Dionte Berry, Emery Wainscott and Jill Smith

Pictured from left to right, Jakob Milani, Dionte Berry, Emery Wainscott and Jill Smith

MURRAY, Ky. – The Murray State News staff was recognized with 12 awards at the Kentucky Press Association (KPA) Convention in Lexington, Kentucky, including a second place award for general excellence in the student publications class 1 category for the 2022 school year.

Carol Terracina-Hartman, the faculty adviser for The Murray State News, said the KPA convention had a broad range of programming for both faculty advisers and students. 

“It's always valuable to interact with not only advisers from sister campuses but also potential future employers of Murray State Journalism and Mass Communications (JMC) students,” said Terracina-Hartman. 

Terracina-Hartman said she was excited for The Murray State News staff and their achievements at the recent convention. 

"I am thrilled that The Murray State News staffers – when judged against their peers – again come out on top,” said Terracina-Hartman. “These awards honor their hard work, commitment to ethical newsgathering and overall excellent journalism production.”

Dionte Berry is the editor-in-chief for The Murray State News and a senior journalism major. He has worked at The Murray State News since fall 2019, performing multiple jobs such as contributing writer, features editor and news editor. 

Berry won a Certificate of Merit for best editorial writer, first place for best feature story as well as best extended coverage story, second place for best editorial page, third place for best front page and a shared first place for best picture essay with photographer Emma Fisher and photography editor Rebeca Mertins Chiodini.

“The awards are significant to us because it is another symbol showing us that The Murray State News is doing something right and that we are putting our best foot forward when it comes to reporting on our community,” said Berry. 

Emery Wainscott, chief copy editor and a senior journalism major, won second place in the investigative story category. She has been working at The Murray State News since spring 2021, starting as a staff writer, then moving on to lifestyle editor and news editor.

“This is my first time winning an award at KPA, so I felt very proud of myself,” said Wainscott. “The article that won definitely needed some improvements, but I did my best with what I had and ended up winning an award for it.”

Jakob Milani, sports editor and junior journalism major, won first place awards for best sports story and best feature story.  He has been working at The Murray State News since he was a freshman in fall 2020, beginning as a staff writer. 

“Winning these awards means a lot to me,” said Milani. “Sports journalism is something I’m very passionate about, and these awards really solidify that this is the field I want to be involved in.”

The News encountered some issues with staffing during the COVID-19 pandemic, so the awards also honor the staff’s hard work in producing the weekly print and digital editions of the publication.

“The awards also mean a lot because in recent years our staff has been shrinking, and I am very proud of what we are still able to achieve,” said Berry. 

Each year a different state judges the categories and stories submitted by students. This year the Oklahoma Press Association judged the competition. Wainscott commented on the smaller staff and how proud she is of her colleagues.

“I'm super proud of everyone for the work they do and how we were able to place second in the state despite staffing issues,” Wainscott said. “I think our team and our paper stands out, and I'm very glad the Oklahoma Press Association judges recognized that.” 

Milani says he was excited to bring home second place for General Excellence. 

“I know we all work really hard here, so to see it all pay off in that way was really special to me,” said Milani. 

Berry says he is proud of the staff, but knows The Murray State News is capable of even greater work.  

“Of course, I am happy that we placed, but at the end of the day I'd love it if The Murray State News placed first for General Excellence,” said Berry. “However, this shows us that there are aspects of our reporting that need to be worked on. In the 2020 KPA awards cycle, The Murray State News won first, and so I would really like to see us back on top next year.”

Terracina-Hartman said the General Excellence award shows the staff consistently applies good journalism principles in all aspects of the reporting process. 

“This award means that The Murray State News is accomplishing everything a newspaper aims for – consistent high quality,” said Terracina-Hartman. 

Milani said he also enjoyed the connections he made at the conference. 

“I got to meet plenty of great student journalists who share the same passion that I do,” said Milani. “We were all constantly tossing ideas back and forth with each other, and it was just an overall great experience.”

Wainscott said the conference lectures they attended were very informative and important to student journalists. 

“For example, we attended one about reporting on addiction and how journalists can perpetuate harm and stigma about addiction and how we can change our language and storytelling methods to combat this,” said Wainscott. “We also attended editorial roundtables where we spoke with other university newspapers to see how they deal with challenges to their paper.”

Overall, Berry said he was proud of The Murray State News staff. 

“No matter what, even if we would have walked away with zero awards, I am extremely proud of my staff and their dedication to The Murray State News,” said Berry.

Terracina-Hartman commented on her appreciation for staff but also the rest of the Murray State community. 

“These awards mean so much more just because The Murray State News staff have been operating under COVID-19 restrictions and managed to produce quality, award-winning work,” said Terracina-Hartman. “It would not be possible without the support of everyone in the JMC department and the entire Murray State campus.” 

The Murray State News Award Recognitions:

  •  1st place best feature story, Dionte Berry (Fort Campbell, Kentucky)

  •  1st place best ongoing/extended coverage story, Dionte Berry (Fort Campbell, Kentucky)

  •  1st place best sports feature story, Jakob Milani (Herrin, Illinois)

  •  1st place best sports story, Jakob Milani (Herrin, Illinois)

  •  1st place best breaking news photo, Emma Fisher (Genevieve, Missouri)

  •  1st place best picture essay, Emma Fisher (Genevieve, Missouri) , Rebeca Mertina Chiodini (Cape Girardeau, Missouri) and Dionte Berry (Fort Campbell, Kentucky)

  •  Certificate of Merit best editorial writer, Dionte Berry (Fort Campbell, Kentucky)

  •  Certificate of Merit best video, Staff

  •  2nd place best general news photo, Emma Fisher (Genevieve, Missouri)

  •  2nd place best investigative story, Emery Wainscott (Paducah, Kentucky)

  •  2nd place best editorial page, Dionte Berry (Fort Campbell, Kentucky)

  •  3rd place best front page, Dionte Berry (Fort Campbell, Kentucky)

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